Senior Living: How to Live Longer by Walking
Walking is one of the most effective, enjoyable and accessible forms of exercise, and can help you live longer. Experts suggest walking at least 10,000 steps per day to help control weight, maintain aerobic fitness and build bone and muscle strength.
“Increasing your physical activity by walking at least 10,000 steps a day can bring you a variety of health benefits,” says Dr. Harrison Bloom, geriatrician and senior associate at the International Longevity Center-USA (ILC-USA). “Walking can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, osteoarthritis, anxiety and depression. It’s also helpful to decrease insomnia.”
The following tips can be used by walkers of all ages:
. Take advantage of opportunity. There are numerous opportunities to increase your walking naturally throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Park further away from store entrances-or walk to the store to begin with!
Set a goal for each day! Studies have shown the average person should walk about 10,000 steps a day, which is about five miles, depending upon one’s stride. This is the equivalent of a 30-minute workout and can burn between 300 and 500 calories per day. 10,000 steps is a goal, not an absolute. Any amount of walking is helpful.
Keep track of your steps. Walkers can monitor their strides using a pedometer, which clips unobtrusively onto a belt or waistband. The pedometer counts every step you take providing instant feedback.
Find a group.or create your own. Those who walk with a buddy or group are more likely to stay active. Groups of friends or acquaintances can form informal walking groups or you can join an organized walking group in your community.
Be prepared! Keep an extra pair of walking shoes in your car or office, you never know when you will have the opportunity to squeeze in a few extra steps.
Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day. Eight ounces of water per 15 minutes of exercise is key to preventing after-exercise soreness. Try freezing a bottle of water overnight and taking it with you when you walk. It will melt slowly while you walk so you’ll have a constant supply of cold, refreshing water.
Keep talking. Walk at a pace that challenges you and elevates your heart rate, but don’t overdo. You should be able to talk and carry on a conversation while you are exercising; if you can’t, you may be working too hard.
Stand up straight. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends maintaining the following posture when exercise walking: Swing your arms. Keep your head up, back straight and abdomen flat. Point your toes straight ahead. Take long strides, but don’t strain.
Exercise your brain. Mental games you can play while walking will keep you entertained and increase your brain health. Learn the names of trees and flowers in your neighborhood or memorize the street names or house facades.
Dress for success. In the summer wear a hat and sunscreen, and don’t be afraid to walk inside (malls, treadmill) if the weather is too hot or wet. In the cooler weather dress in layers so that you can adjust for weather conditions.
Based on research from the ILC-USA issue brief Walk to a Healthy Future. The ILC-USA recommends checking with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.